Friday, April 17, 2009

The Joys of Dealing With Parents in an upper middle class community

You might wonder why I never write about many of my everyday school experiences and adventures as a middle school teacher. The main reason is that I don't want to make my blog private, but need to keep it free from information that would infringe upon the privacy of my students. BUT, everyone has a hard day right? So here's mine and I won't be specific to incidences, this is just an accumulation of observations over 2 years.

There are a few days in the school year when I get very tired of dealing with parents. I can take one parent interaction, but more than one per day just wears me out. The call or email is usually in response to a disciplinary warning. Most parents call without processing the situation (the kid comes home crying or angry), so I kind of understand that it's like a knee jerk reaction to protect their child. It starts with denial, then an excuse for the student's action, and then a demand for more information or a recall of the punishment. I'm starting to get the feeling that many parents just want me to tell them that I was wrong, their child should not be punished, and I'll take back that referral or think time, as they call it at our school. A lot of times the parent starts making a bigger deal about the magnitude of the punishment than I do. After a few days I will sometimes get a much appreciated email or phone call of apology. This is great!

Now, have there been times when I've been wrong? Yes, of course! But these are usually handled before this phase and the student will come to me and explain why he or she feels they were wrongly disciplined, we talk, understand, and all is well.

Parent involvement is good when it includes keeping track of a child's grades, keeping track of their friends and after school activities, or volunteering in class. Then there is the not so nice involvement. This consists of getting the child out of every situation in which they get in trouble. It's kind of ironic because there is such a hard fight for some in this area, yet no fight to get those F grades up from the same parents. Sadly these parents and students proudly waltz away after winning "the fight" only to fall into another disciplinary and academic skirmish with another teacher. My own parents were never like this. They expected us to get good grades and if we got in a mess, we were expected to fix it ourselves. Privileges were taken away and we had to deal. We didn't have parent lawyers. All I can say is this: parents really love their children. If I remember this I can keep my cool. This is an expression of love.


julianne rose said...


hey there, i wanted to say the other day how glad i was to see your comment on my blog about guerilla attacking fashion magazines, but also how sad that you see that in 7th graders?! noooo! it's so tragic to see these things! and also glad you came to new york and ate all the delights. a friend told me when i moved here you could eat your way through manhattan. SO TRUE.

you and john are the best, so glad to see you are well :)

Kristen said...

I love it. I didn't have parent lawyers either. I was expected A) to get decent grades and B)keep myself out of trouble.

ON the parents defense...sometimes notes will come home and while you as the teacher as "in" on what really happened, explanations on our side are sometimes foggy. Sometimes we just want a bit more clarification. (Like who was he/she getting into trouble with, is this the first time, did he clearly know the rules, etc) KWIM?